The Chinese Mulberry tree that shades us in summertime...

fier, fière (fyer, fyeruh) adjective
1. proud; high-minded  Also: la fierté (f) = pride

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"Comment lacer ses chaussures" 

 Note: this story was written in 2006. Jackie is now 13-years-old.

Walking down the couloir I hear a low hum coming from my daughter's room. Peering around the open door, I find Jackie sitting on the floor, one leg extended, the other bent (knee up). Her arms circle the bent leg with its scraped genou while her fingers are caught in her shoe-laces. With a sigh, she frees her hands from the tangle only to pick up the laces, once again, before repeating this mantra:

Pour faire un noeud
Je fais une boucle
Je tourne autour
Je passe par le petit trou
et je tire...

To make a knot
I fashion a loop
I circle around it
I pass through the little hole
and pull....

Jackie brushes a golden mèche away from her face and begins again. As my 8-year-old repeats the chant, I can just imagine the pressure she must be under. Earlier, her brother had warned her that if she couldn't tie her shoes by the time she was twelve, she would be la honte of middle school.

Behind the shoe-tying girl, tossed over an unmade bed, lies a very bedraggled "Bunny", Jackie's 6-year-old dodu. To say that the plush "pal" was fired or dismissed or laid off would be incorrect. Some time ago, Bunny was let go, as one lets go of a raft to then swim on one's own.

If only tying one's shoes were as easy as swimming... then our fish of a daughter would not be in such a predicament! I think about the disservice I have done my girl by opting for all those non-lacing Mary Jane's or the tennis shoes with the Velcro closures. What was a helpful shortcut for a busy mother is now a honteux obstacle for a determined daughter.

Hands now clasped in supplication, I stand quietly by the door listening to a few more shoe-lace tying attempts:

Pour faire un noeud...
To make a knot...

I listen, front teeth pressing into lower lip, until the last line of  the litany changes: voilà!
...and there I have it!

With a soupir de soulagement I slip away unnoticed and continue on down the hall, my heart swelling. That's my girl! You did it!

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome in the comments box. Merci d'avance!

French Vocabulary

comment lacer ses chaussures = how to tie one's shoes

le couloir (m) = hallway, corridor 

le genou (m) = knee

la mèche = lock of hair

la honte (f) = the shame

le doudou = security blanket (or stuffed animal that comforts a child)

honteux (honteuse) = disgraceful

un soupir de soulagement = a sigh of relief


When you buy any item at Amazonvia the following links (and at no additional cost to you) your purchase helps support this French word journal. Merci beaucoup!

Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon: The French Edition of Green Eggs and Ham

SmartFrench Audio CDs Intermediate/Advanced

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

Clean Provence. Eau De Parfum Spray

Mille Bornes (Card Game)
First published in 1962, Mille Bornes (pronounced "meel born," French for "milestones") is an auto racing card game whose object, for each team of two players, is to be the first to complete a series of 1,000-mile trips.

Behind the scenes of photo staging...

Mama Braise (pronounced "BREZ", like PEZ), left, Smokey Bear, right

That's my knee. You can imagine the contortions involved in photographing these animals.

Idioms & Expressions
le courage fier = lofty courage
faire le fier = to show off
fier comme Artaban = as proud as a peacock
fier comme un pou = "proud as a louse" (arrogant and vain)
être fier de quelque chose = to be proud about something
être trop fier pour mendier = to be too proud to beg
se tenir sur son fier = to hold a high-and-mighty attitude

     Feel free to add to this list. Share an expression in the comments box.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety